One of my ongoing activities is working with a DoDfunded research team that is developing an open source model of the human body. In a few years, a professor should be able to teach medical students how, for example, the lungs work without sacrificing an animal. The interesting point about this project — which involves computer scientists, engineers, physicians, and physiologists — is that the common language is simple discrete component electronics.
For example, in developing a model of the lungs, we represent each lung with a diode, a few resistors, and a capacitor. That's it. Add AC or DC driving signals, and the current and voltage swings mimic the pressures and flows in the lungs.
The take-away of this illustration is that it's important for you to learn the basics. I'm talking Ohms Law, serial and parallel discrete components, and simple signal sources. This might seem self-evident, but since the introduction of the increasingly popular microcontrollers and standard sensors and effectors, it's possible to create electronic devices without ever touching a capacitor or resistor. Why use a pull-up resistor when microcontrollers (such as the Arduino) allow you to specify pull-ups in software?
Of course, if your time is limited and you have a specific project in mind, you want a solution as soon as possible. However, if your goal is to master the art of electronics, then you need to understand the basics. Ten years from now when the current generation of microcontrollers — and your knowledge of their specifics — is worthless, there will be applications for Ohms Law and basic circuitry. As illustrated by my experience working with scientists from varied backgrounds, basic circuitry can be a Rosetta Stone for communications — second only to pure mathematics.
So, let's say you're sold on the concept of getting a solid foundation in the basics. Just how do you get this grounding? Well, in addition to the occasional introductory articles in Nuts & Volts, check out the classics such as one of the introductory texts from Forrest Mims III (www.forrestmims.org). Then, there's the timeless Art of Electronics by Horowitz and Hill. If you're not into reading, there are dozens of introductory electronics tutorials on YouTube.
These passive sources of information are all perhaps necessary, but by no means sufficient to get you where you need to be. You need some hands-on experience to ground your theoretical understanding of basic electronics. Pick up a kit that uses discrete components — one that lets you easily substitute the components. Another route is to tear down every electronic device you can get your hands on.
Don't let any electronic device that is destined for the landfill escape your pliers and soldering iron. Take notes and take hostages (remove components for repurposing). Try to figure out the underlying circuit and create a schematic. Then, try to improve on the basic circuit design.
Once you've achieved this level of success, you've mastered the basics. NV
The Arduberry is a simple and inexpensive way to bring Arduino shields to the Raspberry Pi. The device is a shield that slides over the Raspberry Pi and allows you to stack and use Arduino shields. The Arduberry requires no physical configuration to work with most shields. You can write Arduino sketches (programs) right on your Raspberry Pi. The Arduberry will bring the Raspberry Pi and Arduino together, uniting the two greatest hacking systems ever.
So What Exactly Is It?
The Arduberry is a shield for the Raspberry Pi that connects Arduino Shields. You can think of it almost as an Arduino, built for the Raspberry Pi. The Arduberry connects to the Raspberry Pi with the standard 26 pin header. The shield has an Arduino UNO-compatible microcontroller on it, as well as standard pins for an Arduino shield.
The Arduberry requires virtually no hardware setup: slip it onto the Raspberry Pi and go. It ships ready to work. The Arduberry comes fully assembled, and you won't need to make any changes to the hardware (no pinning, no batteries, no nothing!).
The Arduberry microcontroller can be programmed to run on it's own and access Arduino shields. Shields that use digital communications can be accessed directly by the Raspberry Pi, while shields that use digital or analog pins can be controlled by the Arduino. The Arduino chip on the Arduberry can communicate directly with the Raspberry Pi with no extra setup required.
Phonebloks is a vision for a phone worth keeping. We want a modular phone that can reduce waste, is built on an open platform and made for the entire world. We are keen on finding the right partners and people to build this phone. We set up an online platform where you can share your thoughts, ideas and feedback. We believe that together we can make the best phone in the world. Visit www.phonebloks.com to learn about a phone worth keeping!
When Google announced that it had purchased Boston Dynamics, I couldn't help but think of Ray Bradbury's tale of Night Meeting, from his Martian Chronicles. The story begins when a man from Earth and a Martian encounter each other on a desolate road one night on Mars. The man is driving an old pickup truck, while the Martian is driving a multi-legged vehicle. They look out on the landscape and realize that they come from different times, but they can't determine which of them is from the future and which is from the past.
There's a lot more to the story, of course, but the metaphor of legged and wheeled vehicles passing in the night seems relevant to the Google-Boston Dynamics deal. Of course, Google is the company behind the driverless car that promises to make the steering wheel as useful as your appendix. Then, there's Boston Dynamics, the creator of the Army Mule, Big Dog, Cheetah, and other four-legged robots that can manage rough terrain that would stop a wheeled vehicle in its tracks. If you check out the Army Mule on YouTube, you'll hear that the gas-powered engine needs a bit of muffling before it can be used in a stealth operation, but otherwise, it seems up to the task of hauling gear.
I don't see multi-legged vehicles replacing the fourwheeled car any time soon, but cars aren't the only vehicles in use today. More and more "personal" vehicles are making their way onto sidewalks, in stores, and in the malls. These motorized carts and wheel chairs often require the user to detour onto ramps because they can't navigate steps or escalators. Perhaps there's something in a multi-legged vehicle that would provide value over and above the transportation provided by an ordinary motorized buggy.
For military purposes, there's the obvious advantage of a pack mule that can carry heavy loads and, eventually, serve as a vehicle for soldiers. For the soldiers who lose one or both legs in battle, riding a weaponized robotic mule into battle might be one way to contribute to the fight. For civilian purposes, imagine the spinoffs of the legged technology — from chairs that gently raise or lower an elderly or injured person, to walking assistants that either carry or guide the person to their destination.
One thing's for certain — we're bound to see spinoffs of the technology appear at our favorite online suppliers. I can't wait to get my hands on what I can only imagine is the sensor technology used by the Mule to maintain balance. Then, there's the camera system used to track the terrain. I don't know what sort of gasoline-powered generator is used in the Mule, but I'm sure that I can think of ways to repurpose the technology for other projects.
For now, I have no desire to be transformed into a bionic Centaur, but in another 30 years or so when my joints are arthritic from all those marathons, I may have a different opinion. It's good to have options, and that's certain to come from the Google-Boston Dynamics venture. NV
Bob Davis has been working on rebuilding a Robo Raptor to be controlled by an Arduino. It is a key project in his latest book "Arduino Robotics Projects" available on Amazon. The arduino powered roboraptor now has a better roar and his mouth opens and closes.
Hyundai Motor, South Korea’s biggest automaker, unveiled ‘Brilliant Cube,’ an innovative lighting sculpture designed to deliver the ‘Modern Premium’ experience in an artistic way. Located in Gangnam, Seoul, one of the capital’s busiest districts, the lighting sculpture is expected to be the city’s newest attraction.
Brilliant Cube is a kinetic 3D matrix, comprised of 576 clear LED poles moving up and down. The dimesion is 6M X 6M X 6M. It is located at Gangnam station crossroads, one of the most crowded spots in Seoul being a new landmark of Gangnam.
With the theme of "Live Brilliant" each LED stands for the brilliant moment of our lives, and by the structure this shows the frameworks of our time that implies the social shift of each individual with equal capacity tiered in the same distance and depth.
Brilliant Cube, created by a renowned media artist Jin-Yo Mok, in collaboration with Seoul based media artist group: Jonpasang, is not only a kinetic sculpture, but a medium for various messages.
This installation is supported by Hyundai Motor Company and Gangnam Gu.
As an electronics enthusiast with a bent towards construction, you can get by with a handful of tools. A good soldering iron, diagonal cutters, needlenose pliers, DMM, and a set of screwdrivers will get you through most projects. However, certain luxuries can make building and debugging hardware a joy. I'm talking about magnification tools, from the Luxo illuminated 3X magnification desk lamp to the palm-sized electronic magnifiers with 10x to 100x magnification that can enable you to read the values printed on SMT resistors.
I've owned one model or another of those Luxo magnifiers for most of my life. They're good for 'big picture' magnification. Large illuminated glass magnifiers provide a clear image of the area, good elbow room, and they're easy to work with. Because you're looking straight through a lens at the work area and your hands, there's nothing to learn. What you see is what you get. Unfortunately, every time I check the prices, these magnifiers seem to increase in cost.
The situation is reversed with electronic magnifiers. Moreover, the feature-to-cost ratio continues to climb, with the latest models providing amazing results for relatively little outlay. At the high end of the electronic magnifier spectrum is the ProScope lineup. I've owned the original ProScope and the ProScope HR, in part because the lenses are compatible across the bodies — just like the lenses of an SLR camera. The latest models — ProScope HR2 and ProScope Mobile — provide enhanced resolution (1600 x 1200) and the ability to display and capture images on all Apple iOS devices. The latter could be especially useful if you're teaching an electronics class to a room full of iPhone and iPad users.
You can purchase the original ProScope base for $99 (refurbished), or a new ProScope HR base for $170. The HR2 and Mobile units (with lens) sell for $350 and $450, respectively. Additional lenses range from $50 to $250, depending on magnification and built-in illumination.
On the more affordable end of the spectrum is the Celestron Handheld Digital Microscope 2MP ($45, Amazon). This capable magnifier will reveal the most minute details of an SMT solder joint, with magnifications from 10x to 150x and built-in LED illumination. The software application that accompanies the magnifier isn't quite as polished as the version that ships with the ProScope, but considering the price it's quite a bargain. The Windows version has several features not found on the Mac application, but this is a minor annoyance.
In addition to buying a new stand-alone electronic magnifier, you can repurpose that old microscope in your basement with a new digital image capture device. I've had great luck with the Celestron Digital Microscope Imager ($35, Amazon). You simply remove the ocular eyepiece or tube from your microscope and drop in the 2 MP USB cylinder. The better your optics, the better the image, and magnification depends on your microscope's capabilities. I've had trouble with the software, so use Adobe Photoshop for image capture. Otherwise, for the price, you can't beat the capability. Before buying the imager, I was using an adapter for my Canon digital camera. The adapter kit alone cost $150, and there is no software.
So, there's a solution out there for just about any budget. If you don't own a magnifier, treat yourself. The next time you're debugging a circuit board trace, you'll be glad you did. NV
The Christmas Can Light Dimmer article in the December issue of Nuts & Volts has some safety issues if built as described.
Instead of using a polarized plug on lamp cord, use three wire cord with a three pronged plug and a proper metal electrical enclosure obtainable from any home improvement store. Attach the ground wire from the cords to the ground screw of the metal enclosure. Also, a plastic enclosure could be substituted. While we liked the idea of this project, our readers have brought to our attention too many possible safety concerns to let it stand as is. If you are not knowledgeable in proper home AC wiring practices, we do not recommend building this project. You can join in on the discussion in our forum, if you are so inclined. http://forum.nutsvolts.com/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=17062
86Duino is an open-source embedded platform based on Vortex86EX SoC, easy-to-use hardware and software integrated. This Arduino-compatible board can support many x86 O/S as well as those running on the original Arduino base system. The 86Duino is a high performance and fully static 32-bit x86 processor board compatible with Windows OS, Linux and most popular 32-bit RTOS. It integrates PCIE bus, DDR3, ROM controller, xISA, I2C, SPI, IPC (Internal Peripheral Controllers with DMA and interrupt timer/counter included), Fast Ethernet, FIFO UART, USB2.0 and SD/SATA controller within a single package to form a system-on-a-chip (SOC).
86Duino provides an ideal solution for the Arduino and embedded system with desired performance.
● Vortex86EX Processor86Duino_ZERO-45D
300MHz 32-bit x86
● Open-Source Hardware
● Support DOS, Windows, Linux
● Arduino-Compatible IDE
● Arduino “Leonardo” form factor
Pololu Robotics and Electronics is having its biggest Black Friday sale yet, discounting hundreds of sensors, actuators, motor controllers, and other robot parts by 30% to 60% and offering an additional 11% to 15% off orders over $100! Buy one Zumo Robot and get one free, save on a 3pi Robot and get a free programmer, and take advantage of great deals on select Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, and mbeds. The first doorbuster deals go live Wednesday, November 27, and the sale runs through Cyber Monday (December 2). For details, visit www.pololu.com/blackfriday
I'm a Microchip PIC kind of guy. However, when it comes to Linux, almost any flavor will do. The Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black are getting lots of press. So, instead of deciding whether to bake a Pi or walk the Dog, we are going to do both. In this installment of Design Cycle, we will make the crust and put a leash on the Dog. Read More...